The Montreal Canadiens Major Flaw
Through 45 games, the Montreal Canadiens boast the fourth-best defense in the NHL, having allowed only 105 goals — good for an average of 2.38 goals against per game.
On top of that, the team ranks 11th in shots against, allowing a respectable 29.6 shots against per game (1333 shots against), a key factor in the Habs’ defensive prowess and Carey Price’s success this season, all of which are major reasons to laud Jacques Martin and the system he has implemented in Montreal — yet something is amiss.
What could that be, you say?
How about the other end of that defensive equation, like offense?
In the team and Jacques Martin’s defense, the Montreal Canadiens rank 7th overall in shots for (per game) this season, with 32.5 shots for per game and 10th overall in shots for (total), having fired 1461 shots on opposing netminders.
But that doesn’t explain why the Montreal Canadiens sit 27th overall in goals for!
With 112 goals on 1461 shots in 45 games, the Canadiens certainly have no reason to brag about their putrid team shooting percentage of 7.6 percent.
Considering that the Canadiens currently sit eight games over .500 with a record of 25-17-3, two points out of first place in the Northeast division and thirrd overall in the Eastern Conference, you sort of have to wonder how exactly this team is managing?
Of course the answer lies in Carey Price’s Martin-Brodeur-like thoroughbred play, the best penalty kill in the NHL and having four of the best defensive defensemen in the NHL (although one is now out for the season), but this can’t last, can it?
With Jeff Halpern boasting a team-best conversion rate of 15.8 percent and only four others eclipsing the 10 percent success barrier (the others being Plekanec, Pouliot, Wisniewski and Darche), if the Habs are expecting to be able to forge ahead in the second half of the season, they’re going to need their offense to reawaken.
Furthermore to the teamwide tepid shooting percentage, of those players who have taken more than 100 shots on goal this season, only Plekanec is above 10 percent (11.2 percent).
Consider this: Excluding Tomas Plekanec, only Michael Cammalleri, Andrei Kostitsyn, Brian Gionta and P.K. Subban have more than 100 shots on goal this season; and combined, they boast an incredibly lousy success rate of (here’s that number again) 7.6%. That is 39 goals on 512 shots between Cammy, A.K. 46, Gionta and Subban.
As you can see, the Montreal Canadiens have been gettin’ by with a little help from their friends on defense, and in nets, but where o’ where can that offense be?
For the Habs to come even remotely close to finding the same kind of success they found in last Spring’s playoffs, the only thing that’s going to have to give will be goal scoring.
Slumps, injuries and a bit of bad luck seem to be at the root of the Canadiens’ scoring woes — remember, they’re putting pucks on net at an impressive clip, but the truth is that if the players who are paid to put pucks in the net cannot live up to their paychecks, then the Montreal Canadiens may very well seriously consider adding another prominent weapon to what has been, for lack of a better word, a very sad output from a top six that is worth $24,517,143.